tv Gen. Stanley Mc Chrystal CSPAN February 3, 2013 6:30pm-8:00pm EST
her eyes -- lift her eyes. the other woman in the picture, her cotton is slung over her shoulder. what you have is a break in the ko'd implants. all she has to do is stick -- the cotton plants. all she has to do is take one more step. the message is, the answer will not be the same for everybody. some people will thrive and succeed and others are simply not going to be able to overcome what has happened to them. his ability to create something that universal and that powerful out of something so specific is his real gift. this is where landscape and genre painting come together. >> parts to on the civil war and its influence on american
artists. part of american history tv. >> on monday, at stemming the criss will discuss what he thought the u.s. could have done -- stanley mcchrystal and discussed what he thought the u.s. could have done better. the retired four-star general commanded special operations in iraq and all u.s. forces in afghanistan and his resignation in 2010. this event is about 90 minutes.
terrorist zarqawi, but also many of the procedures that led to the finding and killing of bin laden. the success of joint special operations command is one of the most important stories in the broader war on terror. we are honored that roos will be -- bruce riedel will be interviewing general mcchrystal this morning. this is based on the recent book, which i hope you a purchase, which we are proud to be discussing, my share of the task -- "my share of the task," its describes the role of not only command, but also other military personnel and international personnel that he worked with. just a couple more words about
our panelists. bruce was a 30-year cia veteran before joining brookings in 2006. at the cia, he did a number of things, including working at nato headquarters. he was an advisor to four presidents. he led the afghanistan-pakistan review. bruce has written two books in his time here. a third is about to come out. the first two were about al qaeda. the search for al qaeda and the deadly embrace. the new book coming out next month is "avoiding armageddon." it is about the u.s.-pakistan relationship. general stanley mcchrystal spent 34 years in the military.
he was the director of the joint staff. in military circles, this five- year period of joint special operations command is what makes them memorable and historic. the reality is that he has done more to carry the fight to al qaeda since 2001 than any other person in this department, possibly in the country. after that, bob gates got up, and the secretary of defense called him one of the finest men at arms this country as ever produced, then continued over the past decade, no single american has inflicted more fear and more loss of life on our country most vicious and violent enemies than stan mcchrystal. that makes him sound pretty scary. while he was certainly scary to our enemies, he is an amazing american. i want to share a very brief
vignette. his emphasis on reducing civilian casualties was one of the most important aspects of the strategic initiatives that he brought to bear when commander there. i had the honor of seeing president karzai in the spring of 2011, a few months after stan had come home. president karzai said, please tell general mcchrystal that we appreciate his service, that he is such a friend to the afghan people, that i always appreciated the concern he had for the afghan people as he did his job, dealing with a vicious enemy. please join me in welcoming general stanley mcchrystal to brookings. [applause] >> thank you for coming. it is a privilege to be on the
platform with you. thank you for that very generous introduction. we are going to have a conversation for the first half or so of the hour and a half that we have. i will ask the general a bunch of questions. at about 10:45, maybe later, we will open it up to questions from you. it is an honor to have you here today. this is the maiden voyage of the brookings intelligence project. the brookings intelligence project is a new effort to try to resolve the riddle of intelligence successes and failures, the enigma of why intelligence is sometimes brilliantly successful and other times spectacular failures. one of the great successes is behind the hunt for zarqawi. why should we care about a dead jordanian?
zarqawi's legacy remains with us today. the terrorists who this month attacked a natural gas facility in algeria, al qaeda and the islamic -- they almost worship of -- worship abu musab al- zarqawi. he is a more popular icon even then osama bin laden. the man who carried out and planned the attack in algeria is a self-described devotee of zarqawi. he sees himself as very much an acolyte of the late zarqawi. al qaeda in iraq has produced an offshoot, the al-musra front. he may be dead, but he is still with us.
i would like to ask for your impressions of zarqawi, looking back now. how serious and dangerous a figure he was half a decade ago. why he was at the top of the list of people to go after during the war on iraq. >> it is a pleasure. i am a devotee of mike o'hanlon and a friend for a long time. thanks for being here. it is great to see you, bruce, one of my heroes in terms of intelligence. to be interrogated by the cia -- i will try not to break. [laughter]
abu musab al-zarqawi was from a lower middle class background. he became radicalized while in prison. then became associated with al qaeda near the end of the mujahedin. in afghanistan -- mujahedin period in afghanistan. he had been in iraq before, but he appeared on our radar screen at the end of 2003. he had already started to build an al qaeda in iraq infrastructure that leveraged sunni fear. it is pretty important to view how we saw it. i took over in the fall of 2003. i went to iraq. i got there in october. immediately, it was obvious to me that the situation in iraq was much worse than it appeared
from from afar. i was coming out of the pentagon. it was clearly unsettled. it looked much worse than we had thought. the first hope was that if we got saddam hussein, that would solve the problem. we made an effort to do that. in december, we picked up saddam. it became obvious that, as one of my guys described, a bunch of former regime guys were not really running the beginning of the resistance, the beginning of the insurgency. zarqawi had started to build a network that took trained people, or iraqi sunnis -- trained people, iraqi sunnis, who had been dislocated from their position in society, sometimes government, sometimes military might and they were terrified of the shia, which was going to be dominant in the future.
you had this combination of factors that was fear of the future, frustration against foreign invaders, and then -- not as much religious extremism as sometimes is perceived. it was not really an al qaeda religious movement. it was a political movement, but he got leveraged by some very clever work by people like abu musab al-zarqawi. we were very sure he was there at the beginning of early 2004. we started to track his work. in the spring of 2004, when falluja became the first spot in the country where they held ground -- they actually, al qaeda and the sunni, elements working with them at that hope oh -- point, held at bay the forces for a couple of months. it was pure what they had built was not only thoroughly passionate, but it was also extensive.
zarqawi was an interesting role. to get to the heart of the question, there was a question about -- an issue about did he really matter. the answer is yes, he did. he mattered in a big way. zarqawi became an organizational leader eared he also became an iconic leader -- a leader he also became an iconic leader -- zarqawi became an organizational leader. he also became an iconic leader. he was very low-key, very charismatic. he was an effective, in-your- face leader, but he would also leverage the ability to use mass media. he would put out these radio or internet talks where he would praise groups around the country.
i remember we captured one of -- he was praising different groups, essentially going geographic area to geographic area and pumping up the morale of each area. it was pretty powerful. it made him look like he was controlling them all, which he was indirectly doing, but it was also very motivational. it made them feel like they were part of a bigger entity. he latched them to that very effectively. he started to become the actual, operational leader, and the moral leader, and that increased over time. his goal was to create a civil war. his strategy was to get a sunni- shiite schism to erupt into a civil war. arguably, he succeeded before we killed him with the bombing of the mosque in the spring of 2006. that was the fuse that started what looked and felt up close like a civil war. he became hugely powerful. although we killed him in june,
what he had done carried on after that. >> you just described it as you do in the book, that he created a network of networks. in the book, you lay out how your task force then had to create a network to go after the network. your network was a classic example of the intelligence cycle at work. can you give us a sense of how that network worked, how it evolved, what the pieces of it were, and, ultimately, the speed with which you were turning things around from collections exploitation? >> sure. i grew up when we thought of terrorist groups as narrowly bounded, with a few people in them. if you are able to decapitate it, you cause the problem to
stop. at the beginning of the war against al qaeda, as bruce knows well, we started with a strategy called 2+7. that was osama bin laden, zoller he read, the others -- if you take out -- as i went he re--- zawahiri, the others -- if you have a bounded number of people, you go after them like a deck of cards. you eliminate them, problem solved. that does not apply to a networked enemy. if you think of what a terrorist group has to do, if you see a car bomb go off in baghdad against a target, somebody had to have chosen the target.
somebody had to have built the car bomb. somebody had to have assembled all of the components to the car bomb. somebody had to find somebody to place the car bomb. if it was driven, he had to find a suicide bomber. somebody had to make that car bomb worthwhile. what i mean by worthwhile is typically, they would film it and put the film out so they got much greater value out of the explosion. if you start to think of all these -- you are talking about leadership at the top, command and control, communications, fairly rapid, logistics, sometimes very significant amounts of logistics, when you have 14 car bombs going off a day in baghdad, it is a big logistics chain. talking about recruiting, assessing, training, and moving people into position. you've got a human resources
part of this thing. you are talking about security elements that are doing your counter-intelligence to make sure you are not penetrated. it is a big organization that has got all the functions of a very comfy lex organism. -- very copmlex -- complex organism. it becomes extraordinary effective because there is a reach everywhere. if you think all you have to do is get mr. big, you miss the point. you cannot just say, well, i'm going to stop car bombs or just do this. we went back and looked at the strategic bombing survey of germany after world war ii -- world war ii. there is no single thing. you have to destroy the enemy's network. which meant, for us, you had to go not at the very top, but down to the people who actually do work. field grade officers and senior co's. you had to carve that out and
destroy that and then let the network collapse. to do that, you have to have a network that layers on top of that. we do not naturally do that in u.s. organizations. we have a tendency to be more stovepiped. there are military organizations, special operations, conventional forces, political parts, public affairs -- we tend to be fairly bounded. the special operations part traditionally never did public affairs eared we would never talk about what we did eared unlike al qaeda, who would do an action and then leverage that -- public affairs. we would never talk about what we did.
unlike al qaeda, who would do in action and then leverage that, we do not do that. similar to the intelligence community, they were loath to share that with other parts of the force. the idea is to protect sources, methods, and whatnot. instead, we will just give people enough information to go do something. what we found is you cannot do it that way. you cannot have the blind man looking at the elephant -- we had a network that was not wide enough -- not only wide enough to have a different type of capabilities. we learned it had to be lightning fast. when we started -- when i became involved in the fall of 2003, and i write this in the book in a fair amount of detail. i went to visit our elements in the battlefield. we had about 14 or 15 locations.
we had a big headquarters at the baghdad international airport. there would be a team of 15 operators, an intel guy, and a tac-sat radio. their physical pipe, their bandwidth back to us was limited. they could send e-mail and make phone calls. when it came time to send imagery, send large documents, it was painfully slow, so they did not. similarly, when they tried to draw on those things from our headquarters, you really could not. we might have one intel person for it. they are so busy they don't have time to leverage all the information that the headquarters intelligence is making available, nor do they have time to send it. have these two elements -- you have these two elements not joined. an element would do a raid and capture whoever. they would get phone, computer
documents, whatnot. those would be put in a bag, either a sandbag, one of the burlap sandbags, or a plastic garbage bag, and they would be shipped back to headquarters with a tag on them that says here is the stuff we captured. by the time it got back to the headquarters, it would be stacked up. it would be exploited, as we call "read." i went in one room. there were stacks of these plastic bags. there might have been a map that says this is where zarqawi is today. we would not have known because we were not reading those things until literally weeks later. a lot probably never got read. our ability to exploit computers was painfully slow. we had to send them to someone else. as a consequence, everything you got is delayed. speed became the relevant -- if you could not do it fast, there was almost no point in doing it.
if you could not interrogate someone you captured from a target, there was no point in doing the rate. you were better waiting until you could interrogate -- the raid. you were better waiting until you could interrogate. a successful mission is an operational stroke of genius anything that fails is an intelligence failure -- stroke of genius. anything that fails is an intelligence failure. [laughter]operations were something we did to get more intelligence. intelligence is what -- i would say that intelligence operatives
is what our operators became. people who were traditional shooters -- by 2005, 2006, they thought of themselves as intelligent people who carried guns. it was an amazing difference. >> you describe the formula -- find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze. can you explain how the cycle works? >> you have to find a target, know about it, fix it in real time, get it at a certain place. you have to finish, capture, or kill that target. you have to exploit whatever you get from them. you have to analyze what you have gotten. it is sort of like a progressive assembly line idea. and it makes sense. you start with it. whatever you get, the analysis -- if you draw it in a circle, that takes you back to the find. the problem we found is that is a targeting cycle that has been used. what we found was if you take each of those elements and they
are performed by different organizations, if the find element is done by some human intelligence and some signals intelligence, by different agencies, then it is passed to the people who are going to fix it, often done by aerial platforms, predators and things like that, or we sent agents out to see it -- if they are done by different agencies, by the time this one gets it the way they want it. everybody wants to give a perfect, finished product. it is slow. there is a cultural difference in the way it is passed. you do not get 100% clarity of information. then you fix it in real time. they say, ok. now i will pass it to the finish force. have these blanks in the system. they are time delays and information delays. information loss. the finish force, theoretically, is this group of big shouldered,
brave guys who sit in a room. but he kicks a door open and they go, number 10 north street. they don't know anything about number 10 north street except they are off to go there. when they go to do it, they may be told, pick up this guy. don't have the context or understanding -- they don't have the context or understanding. they don't know exactly what they're looking for. we learned that the most important part of the operation was exploit and analysis. it is what you get out of it. it is what you know. the people who win the next war will not be the people with the most of anything except who knows the most. it is who understands fastness. it will be a fight for knowledge. -- who understands fastest. it will be a fight for knowledge. our finish forces were the best in the world. we were the best in the world. we could go anywhere, win any firefight, extraordinary. but that turned out not to be the problem. the problem was understanding what we got and driving that into more targets.
we learned that, first, you cannot have a truncated system with different organizations controlling parts of it. one, because nobody is completely responsible. i'm doing a great job of finding. it must be somebody else's problem. you have to have a holistic thing which is all contained with somebody driving it, plus the sense that everybody is responsible and everybody gets credit. that is harder to do, but that became the core of making our network work. that became the cycle. when we started -- if we hit a target on day one, it might take uswo -- take us two weeks to get to a second target. by 2006, we were doing three turns a night off of the intelligence from the first target. the second two targets, we would know nothing about, but we would have grabbed the information, digested that, and turn that into an opportunity and moved. that became the big revelation for us. >> you not only had to do this in the field, but you also had
to work with the great enemy -- washington. of all the different agencies involved in government, collection and analysis -- you talk about the cia. you have a great sentence in which you say, "the cia was your most productive partner, but also the most infuriating partner you dealt with." after 30 years, i can endorse that 100%, especially the infuriating part. i would like you to explain what you meant with regards to the cia. >> sure. i start off with the thesis that nobody is either irrational or evil. there are a few people who have challenged that pieces. for the most part, people operate rationally. if you look at the war on terror, it is an exercise in collaboration, integration,
scintigram -- synchronization. that is why nine/11 happened. -- 9/11 happened. we were not able to put all the information together. there are several levels to it. first, there are organizational cultures. every organization has its own culture. the military has many cultures inside it. if you pull out -- that altogether, there is a general culture. sort of big, sort of kinetic, a little bit like a big puppy with big paws, not as refined as other intelligence agencies. you have the cia, which is more refined, more professional intelligence, a bit secretive, which is understandable, does not play well with others, which is understandable, and there are cultural equities to be protected. there is a worry that if we spread these things and we bring other elements in, what is going to happen is we will lose
some of our effectiveness. we will lose our ability to do exactly what it is we have to do. as a consequence, you had this constant cultural tension between the cia, in that case, and joint special operations command that you have to deal with. you are trying to pull these elements together because they need each other. the rate to about a bad -- raid to abbottabad in 2010 could not have happened in 2004. it was reportedly a cia commanded and controlled operation. all the pieces were there in 2004, but we did not have the cultural piece. we had to start to pull pass forces together that had all the elements in them. you start by bringing people -- full task forces together -- to pull task forces together that had all the elements in them.
had some participants that would come and we would form -- we had some participants that would come. but they are always getting pulled by their home offices, not just the cia but every district. we had some that were common. we would find this joint interagency task force, and who they had sent to control you, they wanted out of their offices. literally. there were some pretty amazing lakeport talent. on the other hand, on the other hand, other agencies, they were superstars. some agencies would send people and say, "whatever you do, do not give them any information secrets. well, the thing about forming the team is that everybody is going to have to give away something. it was a multi-year process for us breaking down walls.
and, of course, they get rebuilt really quickly. and we had to bill a lot of personal relationships. there were those that i started the process with, and it took us a long time to develop bonds of trust. what mort -- worries me about peacetime is that you all go back to your corners. there is not be burning platform that says we have got to cooperate. you all believe generally in the idea of cooperation, but it is not something you believe in. it is an active thing you do. it takes people to hold them together. and i think that will always be the case. >> just as a footnote, over the years, i saw about how the cia was a place where anyone who does not work out is shifted to
that important new entity, which started with the team as opposed to the 18 -- the d team as opposed to the 18. -- a team. then there is what is popularly known as drones in the united states. the drone program in afghanistan and pakistan has been an increasingly controversial. one of the things i think your book does well is help us orient to understand that it started really in iraq, using the drone as a reconnaissance mechanism. how important the uav became for your operations, especially the operation to find zarqawi? >> bruce knows the background. the predator -- i will refer to a bunch of different aircraft's, -- aircraft, some manned, some not.
the predator let us watch cameras. , above, for long periods. you would have a certain number of hours in a day. we were not quite sure how to use them. because, early, you would try to go cover and operation. the beauty of doing a raid is -- you needed 120 people. target. 100 were going to provide security, support, command and control around the target. when we could see around the target with clarity all the time, we suddenly realize we did not need 100. we could just put 20 on the target. that used fewer aircraft and instead of hitting one target with 120, we could hit six targets.
huge change. that knowledge, that situational awareness was a huge difference for us. the second thing it did was we learned very rapidly, looking at the operation was important, buttarget development is really we did not know that initially. we did not perfect that for a time. there was an operation in falluja in -- fallujah in the summer of 2004. the only way we could get inside effectively was to watch from above. there was a little bit of intelligence. we started the process of very focused target of element on places to learn the pattern of life. we would watch the same house or the same vehicle. we would chart this and begin to develop an understanding of what was happening.
suddenly, you know who hangs out together. you know the relationships. we had an operation called big ben at i cover in a lot of detail -- called big ben that i cover in a lot of detail in the book. vehicle back for information to a house inside fallujah. we became can going that it was -- we became convinced that it was a cache of weapons. all of which were being used. was one of the first times we had identified a target with that kind of -- it was one of identified a target with that kind of precision just from aerial observation. we nominated it for us to do a ground raid there. at a point, the decision was
made not to do that because of a firefight likely to ensure, but we were given authority to do the precisions weapons strike >> a bombing -- strike, a bombing raid on the target. this was a force for us in this type of environment. we made the decision. in the morning, well after light, we conducted a strike on the house. when it hit the target, we were literally not only is it important to take out the weaponry, it was really do. of course, you are worried about collateral damage, civilians, and whatnot. we got the explosion from the bomb. there are 2 or 3 seconds of nothing. evenly, secondaries go off for about 20 minutes. it is extraordinary what we have hit in that place. that was almost a validation of what we have had -- what we had been doing. we had used moving-target indicators to develop pattern of life, follow people,
vehicles, and things, identify targets to hit. increasingly, our precision went up. the place -- percentage of time in which we found, captured or killed our target, was extraordinarily high. it went up the whole war. in august, 2004, my force did 18 raids, which we thought was breakneck pace. two years later, august, 2006, we did 300 raids, 10 per night. the accuracy of our intelligence was higher. the effectiveness was higher. it was a fascinating correlation. the more full-motion video we got -- if you double the amount of full-motion video unmanned aerial vehicles we get, and we were in competition with other
organizations for this, we will more than double our effectiveness against the enemy. they did and we did. we went up more than twice when we doubled it. it shows you the effectiveness of those particular systems. >> you were, of course, fighting a great court -- cultural war. an unmanned aerial vehicle, by definition, has no pilot to give a medal to. how do you make sure that the guy who is coming up with the precision plan to make sure the right drone is in the right place at the right time gets as much credit as the soldier who actually pulls be -- or the pilot who actually drops the bomb? >> you hit a cultural point that was really key. most of the uav's were flown from the united states. after the operation, they are
not in the mess hall with you. you are not getting that cultural touch. at the beginning of the war, we had quite a disconnect. at one point, we are watching this target. suddenly, the uav turns around and leaves it of course, i ami would have choked the guy, but he was thousands of miles away. [laughter] he said, weather is coming in. i don't want to risk the unmanned aerial vehicle. i said, i don't give a shit about the unmanned aerial vehicle. let it crash. stay on this target. but it was a cultural difference. he had been given different criteria. he had been given one set of what was important. good person, making good decisions, absolutely wrong decision for what we needed. have flown the thing and let it crash. if it accomplished our mission. we started putting our liaison sitting next to them, wherever they were flying from in the
united states. we started doing video teleconferencing. we started knitting them together mission why should and culturally -- mission-wise and culturally. they have to get credit. if they do a good job, they have to understand they were part of the operation that did it. i went to england in about 2007. i went to their equivalent. i sat across from a young female analyst p ritchey described her part -- analyst. she described her part in targeting an individual. her eyes were burning like embers. i had not seen the passion and pride. she felt like she was as central as if she had stood over his dead body, and she was that important. it was the cultural reach helping to understand that everybody is responsible for success and failure.
as brilliant as the uav drone system is -- >> as brilliant as the uav drone system is, at the end of the day, there has to be someone who tells it where to fly. in many cases, it is a human source. in the hunt for zarqawi, it is clear that the debriefing of a detainee was vitally important to the outcome. we know from certain movies floating around now that detainee interrogation is a very important issue. that raises the question of how you interrogate detainees. in the book, you are about as clear as anyone i have ever seen. you say torture is "self- defeating." you described the very elaborate steps you took to make sure that any detainee in your chain
of command was not abused and was housed in a facility that was -- was not a five-star hilton, but it was an appropriate facility. at one point, you said to your troops that anyone who was involved in detainee abuse would be court-martialed and expelled from the task force. why did you feel -- why do you feel that torture and how you handle detainees appropriately is so important to winning this conflict? >> that is a great question. let me first give -- people talk about the issue of whether torture works in getting people to talk. that is almost an academic argument. i'm sure that sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. i don't know. but you really want people to cooperate because they have some reason to cooperate, not just the aversion to physical pain or fear here when a person has
first been captured -- or fear. when a person is first captured, they are frightened and disoriented. you want to use that. you don't want them to feel particularly comfortable or sure about their future. at the same time, you do want them to come to a conclusion that they want to provide information. if the individual who ultimately helped us locate the spiritual advisor -- it took weeks talking to him. day after day after day. we were working on his sense of family, his shame at being part of something that was as destructive as al qaeda in iraq, killing so many innocent iraqis. we were working on a lot of emotions, but we were not threatening him or using -- abusing him. i'm very convinced that was the right note. -- mode. once you get some witty to cooperate for the reason they think is good, that is important -- once you get somebody to cooperate for the reason they think is good, that is
important. torture corrodes and individuals sense of values -- corrodes an individual's sense of values. it is difficult to see your self as morally right once you cross that line -- see yourself as morally right once you cross that line. it also starts to corrode the force. the force starts to believe that certain things are ok. understand, there is a great pressure on forces, pulling teeth -- you toward killing people and potentially mistreating detainees. it is easy for us to sit in washington, d.c., and say we would never do that. chambers and see what some of
other and to captives, when you see your partners, who have sometimes been tortured and executed, it is harder to stay away from that pull. let's make sure we are not too theoretical about this, but you have to. it corrodes the force to look at the -- it corrodes the force. it starts you down a path i don't think you can come back from. the most imaging thing that happened to us during the entire war on terror was abu grape -- -- -- -- was abu ghraib. this was proof positive that all the things said about amerco was hard and fast -- about america was hard and fast, captured in photographs. the prison guards were not effectively supervised. that is what i believe. but it invalidated a lot of the
impressions in the propaganda that -- but it invalidated a lot -- but it validated a lot of the impressions in the propaganda that the al qaeda put out. they used abu ghraib to light the fire. if you are doing that or even if you are perceived as doing that, i think it is extraordinarily damaging to your cause, long term. and you have to think long-term. you cannot think what feels best today. >> one of many great things about your book is that you tell us the historical figures that influenced your thinking.
i was really struck by one. here you are, fighting in the middle of the desert, the 21st century. you looked for inspiration and leadership to horatio nelson, a naval commander two centuries before. you say in the book that he -- his leadership style became the leadership style that made your net worth -- your network succeed. can you explain why horatio nelson is so important to us 205 years after the battle of trafalgar? >> absolutely. i've always been interested in the more i read about him, the more i understood the similarity. midshipman. he had to be able to do -- start as a midshipman. he had to be able to do every job on the ship. literally, had to be able to do every job as they worked themselves up.
they were not the aristocracy given commands -- giving commands. they were middle-class people who became highly professional. their crews were built on being highly professional and competent. as you know, to a degree, cruise benefited when they captured or destroyed any ship -- crews destroyed any ship. to a degree, they became entrepreneurs of battle. were self-motivated and extraordinarily competent entities. what he had to do was move them into position where those motivations and those talents could be put in position. he did not have to fight the fight. he did not have to micromanage. he had to build them into
confident, competent, capable, self-contained crews and leaders, maneuver them into the effect that he wanted, and then do it. that was very similar to where i found myself erie although we have great -- myself. although we have great communication infrastructure and there is temptation to micromanage. i could watch every one of our operation simultaneously as we had all these screens up. and we had the ability to put all of our radios into our computer network, our toxic -- technically, i could talk down to squad level in any force we strikeforce is operating, on anyi could talk down to the mosti never did that. technically, i could. what i found was that is not the way to succeed.
it is not even the way to succeed to tell them exactly what to do. in the normal hierarchical akram that i have been brought in -- background that i had been brought in, sometimes you know why, sometimes you do not. that was too slow. what we did was we turned that upside down so that my function was to provide context to them, make them understand the bigger fight, make them understand what is important, then tell them, generally, what i wanted to have happen. at their level, two things happened. effective because they could adjust to the battle. to hit or when to hit them. in the process, they also owned it. think about it. if somebody tells you exactly how to do something, you just go do it. if somebody says, i want you to solve this problem, it is your solution. you have a certain amount of pride in what -- and you want your solution to come out right. i think nelson did that.
i learned a lot from studying him. >> one more question before i open it up to the audience. you also say this in the book. in many ways, we may have gotten zarqawi too late. he had already -- he had already set the trap and ignited the fuse. looking back -- and hindsight is always 20-20 -- what could we have done better in 2003 and 2004 at the opening date that would have kept us -- opening -- at the opening gate that would have kept us from what it became? >> the first is that we did not know enough. we did not understand the forces at work. situation. saddam hussein had this thing and bailing wire. when those things were unhinged, not only did
sectarian frustrations come up --they were not a civil war waiting to happen. when you cut everything else, you suddenly caused things to happen. you are a civil servant who lives in baghdad. you have a job in the government. you are in the -- you lose your job, either because you are a baptist -- bathist, or because things happen. and now you are living in baghdad, and you do not have electricity. it is 125 degrees in the summer. you don't have electricity. you have no job. you have a wife, several children. deborah things have happened. -- several things have happened. one, you did not like saddam hussein, but you had a job here you could take care of youryou
did not have foreigners driving around, looking as though they are occupiers, whether they are or not. you get all the negatives of seeing a foreign opposing power, none of the positives of havinglife got worse. as resistance started and violence occurred, you could not be protected from that. the worse it got, you now have all of these physical and economic problems and life is not safe. at least under saddam, if you did not oppose the government, you had a certain guarantee to your life. so, we took away the positives -- the few positives that saddam hussein gave. negatives. we allowed other negatives to rise up. we did not offer clear hope. in the spring of 2003, we have a certain. of support -- period of support from the iraqi people. they started, in the late summer and early fall of 2003, not to believe that things were
going to get better, that it was going to get worse. people started to do what was rational behavior. they started to do things with the sunni resistance or to join the sunni -- shia militia. it looked like it was going to batten down for a fight. we could have done a number of things to try to do that better. we could have put a much more professional effort in working with the government. the government, as you know, did not exist in the spring of 2003. we could have put more security in place. the worst thing about putting any kind of occupying foreign force in somewhere, if you are going to put any, you better put enough. you put enough to create the negative and you don't create
the positive -- they would have liked order. there were a number of things. it also goes back to we did not know enough. we did not take it seriously enough early. when this thing started to get ugly, we did not -- we, the military, we, the intelligence agencies, we did not look at what we would have to do for a long war. learn to speak arabic. have professionals who would deal with this for a long time, not just people coming in for one to her and not gaining expertise. and not gaining expertise. the army did not really get a lot better at it until 2006. >> time for your questions. these again if i your self. -- please identify yourself. we have a microphone coming. >> thanks for everything you have done and continue to do for our country.
one thing you alluded to is the problem with tribes. you were a key implementer of breaking down the tribes within special operations. along the same lines, breaking down the tribes between conventional forces. now is a huge initiative, a balance tween direct and indirect support -- between direct and indirect support. and the enhancement of the future operation command, where they will see that as a huge enablers? any comments? >> i think he is on the right track, which does not surprise me. the tribal part is so much more powerful and dangerous than we
think. you have all these great organizations that are very good at what they do and what they want to do, but that does not mean they fit together. early in the war, we would do these wonderful special operations raids into an area where a conventional force had responsibility. we do great ear and we would very happy with ourselves, -- we do great. we would be very happy with ourselves. but the impact in that neighborhood had to be dealt with by the conventional forces. that would cause them more problems than the problem we solved, at least arguably. if they did not understand the context of what we were doing in the bigger picture, they see it as all negative. from the president. therefore, what we do is more important than what they do. until we started to marry those together, we did not get synergy. part of that was just pride. background. all of these different things. my community was very secretive. we were very proud of that. over time, we found out that doing things in secret sometimes is worse than opening it up quite a bit. that was part of it. how you break down those is very interesting.
people have got to believe it is in their interest to do that. at one point, i forced our very secretive, highly trained organizations to do exchanges. take a shooter, put them in the other for six months. i was told initially that just could not work. you cannot bring a seal to work with army guys, or whatever. but we went ahead with it. he had become one of them culturally. it helped us get over the hump eared what we had to do with other agencies is trade hostages, as we called it. [laughter]
and build relationships over time. it is about relationships at the end of the day. thanks. >> gerald chandler. i would like to follow on your last question. we have saved american money and lives -- would we have saved american money and lives if we had not disbanded the iraqi army at the start? my impression is absolutely. had we can the iraqi army on payroll, it would have opened up. moreover, we probably could have taken over that army. but two, when we flooded all of these now frustrated people back into the labour market in which there was no labor being produced, someone who is dissatisfied, unemployed, and had their pride heard, i think that was a significant mistake. >> let's go over to this side.
>> french television. what is your perception about the u.s. army dealing with defeat with the syrian population, and a similar question, how do you see north africa, specifically regarding what happened last week in algeria with three american hostages killed? thank you. >> sure. i think that if you are going to get insurgents out of a population, the only people that can really do that are the population. the population has to be unwilling to support the insurgents or terrorists, however you want to call them, because there is a fine line between the two. so you have to convince them it is in their interests. i go back to irrational behavior.
people do not do things that are irrational very often, so if people feel that they are coerced by insurgents, or they feel that the government will not meet their needs, then they are much more apt to allow the insurgency, and one of the challenges with foreign counter insurgents, french, american, whomever, to go into the area, there is that cultural bob. you have a difficult time connecting with the people, and that is the big hurdle that you jump over, and it is inconvenient for counterinsurgency forces to do that. you would rather not. you would rather be doing what feels comfortable militarily. you would rather have units that are just french or just canadian, but it is not the best. they have to believe you are in their interests. if you think about the western soldier, and we arm western
soldiers, they are in wearing a combat uniform. they have body armor on. they typically have a radio and i protection and a big weapon. if they were big, now they look huge, and they come into your village or home at midnight, and they do not speak your language. suddenly, it looks like a martian, it is very frightening. you cannot explain, no, no, that the population -- you might have an interpreter a long, which we did, but that is difficult. in fact, you can look terrifying to them. they have got to believe that the power you have is in their interests. that is a key thing. if you go back to what happened in algeria, basically, and what is happening in mali, this is
going to be interesting. what is a relatively unpopulated area has some geographical importance, and so somebody has to control it. i think people who were surprised by the algerian response, i was not. in my mind, the algerians fought a very bitter counterinsurgency of their own. and the algerians have no interest in showing to potential terrorists that they need western help and that they are willing to be weak. in fact, and i certainly would not say the government of algeria was happy to have hostages die, but i think they sent a really clear message to terrorist groups that they are not going to negotiate, they are not willing to play games, that they are capable of doing this. whether that is a perfect
approach or not depends on who you are, but i think the government of algeria wants people to know that these terrorist incidents are not going to pay off, and they sent moqtada al tarter -- they sent a clear message. >> i have two questions. the first is going back to iraq and afghanistan. clearly, you came out of iraq with a lot, but there are also things that you say in retrospect that hindered you doing things there. the second question is following up on the previous one. again, do you have a comment on that?
>> my role was largely with the task force i have focused on destroying al qaeda in iraq. the we were very much there to dismantle the network. now, as i mentioned, we did it for a number of years. i remember, at one point, i think it was max boot who came to visit us and we were hitting targets and getting good at what we did. and he said, you are getting strategically irrelevant. of course, i had my feelings hurt at the time prepared [laughter] right. what he was saying is, you can do this forever, and you are tamping down, you are holding al qaeda in iraq from being as effective as they could become law but we will not succeed unless it is married with an effective and wider campaign. that was absolutely right. what really happened when the
surge was implemented is another line -- a number of factors came together. there was the exhaustion of the sunnis, the effectiveness of our operation, the rise of the weakening, additional coalition forces, and there was a reinvigorated counterinsurgency effort. those things came together and suddenly, the operations we were doing not only remained as tactically effective as they were, but suddenly started to have strategic in fact -- the strategic impact. when we did something in an area, it did not erode. our work with the intelligence forces was more effective. when i went into afghanistan, i came into that believing that the end of the day, you have to win a population. there is no other sustainable, long-term outcome that can work. to do that, you got to protect the population, you've got to do things that convinced them to
support their government, and indirectly the isaf forces. and you needed to do the strike may since -- the strike missions, a quarter of a number of missions, but not just to pound on the enemy. it is like erosion. you've got to plant things to stop soil from eroding. i became convinced that was the right solution there. i was informed by my previous experience, or impacted by my previous experience there. ouattara the question? -- what was your other question? >> the second question was on mali essentially, and the economists call in its africanistan.
are they the same or not? >> i am not prepared to say that they are the same. it is a pit and -- a big piece of ground with multiple obligations currently operating. the fear is that it comes -- become another somalia, and that it becomes an government -- ungoverned territory where bad things can happen. i do not think it is exactly somalia either. but the idea that uncovered areas, and -- on a government areas, that things can happen. -- in areas that are not governed, bad things can happen. what we've got to do is establish enough governments here. the economist title is the classic military mistake of fighting the last war over again. what i think we are seeing is not our enemy, al qaeda, is showing a remarkable
adaptability and they are adapting to a new environment, which is the arab spring, taking advantage of it to create what i of al qaeda, or al qaeda 3.0. if you want to learn more about that, go to our website. let's go back to questions now that i have advertised for myself right here. >> my question has to do with prt teams and their attraction with troop engagement teams. to address the martian problem, you want to put a civilian with that to maybe soften them up. there were attempts in afghanistan to do just that. have there been any highly successful programs of that nature? aside from the efforts of some very brave prt team members that are being discussed for
future engagement, should the u.s. population have the appetite to go into another country a and try to connect with that again? >> the great question. there is a tendency to want to wipe the white board clean. there's a certain group that says counterinsurgency does not work, and therefore, we will turn to something else. a little bit like, i could not reach the grace, so they must have been sour. -- they must have been soured. counterinsurgency is always hard. that is why there is an insurgency in an area, because there are problems. but you always do
counterinsurgency. world war ii. it was clean and good and we crushed nottie germany and then -- we crushed in nazi germany and then we came home. no, we did not. we did the marshall plan. that was counterinsurgency for years to make sure it did not erode or return to fascism or communism. in the civil war, with the reconstruction, and that was problematic, too, but you still have to do something to make society have some staying power. the question is, you have to know what you are doing with counterinsurgency. it is by definition a nuanced effort. what the insurgents want you to do is overreact. it is just like the matador with the ball. the inserting goes to the area and waives the caper by typically do in violent
activities. what they want the security forces to do is to bomb the area or to surround the whole block and search everybody's house. if you bomb it, you first read all the people. if you search all the houses, 95% are innocent, but nobody likes to have their house searched. now the civilians are irritated. the insurgency wanted to do that unless -- until you have lost credibility, or you have created so many antibodies with the people that is bad it is nuanced and it takes a long time. what america has not been good at is investing in those things that take a long time. i remember before afghanistan i wrote a book about the east india company in northwest india, later the pakistan area, but in the early 19th century. they sprinkle these young men out there to establish bases and to build units. their first tour of duty was 10 years and had to learn what they called hindustani first. then they got leave and they went home to england and they back. if you have people in dealing effectively in an area, you got
to think that way. however one says lawrence of arabia, the spring guide to one -- this guy that went out and dealt with the arabs. there are different views of his effectiveness, but the point is, he was in the area before the war started. he had been an archaeologist, he was dealing with. did you parachute's someone in -- or you parachute someone in from milwaukee who does not the language and is going to be there -- from milwaukee who does not they be affected? not often. -- will they be effective? not often. it will take real dedication of people. you how to create a cadre of people willing to do it. a cadre of people willing to accept risk because you cannot protect everybody. the reason it is done so much by the military now is because we have skewed funding and other
things. we need to have a wider capacity with u.s. business. are we willing to do it? i don't know. i'm not yet seen it. i see some talk about it, but not yet seen that on the ground. although, there are some exceptions. there are a number of people that i have worked with that do it. lee, but they are too few in number. -- i do a brilliant -- that do a brilliantly, but they are too few in number. >> i am a former marine. semper fi. my pessimism increases because it looks like we're shoveling sand against the tide. there is a book that goes to that insurance issue that you just address. the premise of the book is that we are not thinking long term.
>> i do know been west. i have not read the book. i agree in part with what he says and disagree in part. the long term is to stick with anything is what is key. in the region now, afghanistan and pakistan, what they want to know was whether america is going to stick their. they do not want to know how many troops will put on the ground. that is not what the measure. the measure based on whether we will turn around and walk away. pakistan wants to stay there, but they are not sure that it -- that we will. if they believe that we will come all there calculus is different the problem is, we do not like the idea of saying that we will be here for a long time, even small numbers of people. president karzai, i remember on one day i said of how many
americans do you want here? he said, i want american business. and i want you here to make a profit, because if you will make a profit here, you will not want the relationship to go bad. a very perceptive. where i disagree is where he said that we are not taking the gloves off and not pounding on the taliban hard -- hard enough. where i disagree with that is, the soviets killed 1.2 million of people out of 24 million people. how many people mathematically-- do we have to kill? when you go to work, there are other effects. you start destroying people's houses. if the taliban comes into our house and start shooting at us, we have the legal right to level the house.
if you have to through -- to survive, do it. if you don't have to come back away. people said we were being solved. if i blow up that house, even if the taliban are in it, the people who own the house if they are lucky enough not to be in there and when we blow it up, they do not feel liberated after word. afghans use to tell me, there are three outcomes, either you win, the taliban winds, or we get stuck in this protracted war. they have been at war for 34 years now. they said, we would like you to win, but our second guest is that the taliban wins. but we cannot stand is that the war goes on forever. pretty interesting and rational behavior. impossible. i do not think it is ever impossible. but i think is very hard. we need to understand exactly
what we want out of afghanistan. we need to have a very clear set of objectives for what we want. and do not think of afghanistan, as bruce has written about so eloquently, think about the region. because when we are gone, the region will still be there. and we are worried of northern mali now, and the whole region has potential issues before the world. for the world. as it has in the past. thanks, sir. >> let's go to the back. just to give you exercise. over there in the corner. >> general, what is your opinion on the campaign against al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, inis it on the right track? or is it going to the decapitation strategy that you talked about earlier? >> i'm not an expert on it now. i have an opinion sort of from afar, i give you that up front.
i think you do have a positive effect. striking and meet the drones, or whatever you do, kinetics strikes and things like that, because you can disrupt the organization and take out key leaders. i have never seen it where it isi have never seen where you can do enough drone strikes to destroy an entire network, or decapitate it enough so that new leaders do not rise. i hope that is not the whole. i think it has got to be a supporting efforts for other activities, hopefully by the government of yemen. what we have to understand about drone strikes is for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. every time you shoot inside a country, there are some who are happy about it and some who are not. often, those who are not happy about it are not directly affected by it. if you look in pakistan right now, those who are most opposed to american drone strikes are not those who are close to the strikes. they are people in other parts,
by the idea of sovereignty being violated. that is something we got to something. there is always a day after. and you will always deal with the long-term impact of what you do. i do not believe we should not have that as a tool in the arsenal or the capacity that we have. but i think we need to have a very thoughtful, long-term policy on what happens the day after everything we do. i think that applies everywhere in the world. how would we feel if the mexicans came north and took a drone strike in texas, even though we were going after a like, that we thought was evil aspects part of us would say, it is good that we -- that we thought he was evil? part of this would say, it is good that we got him. the other part would say, why didn't you just tell us? you have to understand what is
the thing we are dealing with is people's minds. >> down in front. >> as you have said, we did not know enough and did not understand enough. can you explain what you envisioned when you implement the afghanistan program? and how that could be adapted to other regions, wherever we go next? >> i became convinced in my to -- my first tour in afghanistan in 2002 that we did not know enough, that we were clueless in trying to figure out is extraordinarily complex thing. and then all of my years in iraq and then again in afghanistan as well. and in the fall of 2008, i come
back from my special operations command. i was director of the joint staff. i had been reading about the area and understood that despite all the time i was there how little i understood. and i like to read history. i became convinced that unless we had a cadre of people that understood the area and had long term relationships with people, it would be difficult to be effective. arar the white board at my office, mike flynn, now the director of the dia, and major general scott miller and i said, we've got to create audra of -- to create a cadre of people who speak the language, have repetitive chores, have relationships and can influence things. the term afghan hands came from the idea of the china hands, people who are involved for a long time. we got the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mike mullen, to support and we got the secretary of defense to support it. we got a great plan and it will
take awhile to implement. we ran right into service bureaucracy. what we ran into was people going, wow, if i put a man a woman into the program, they will be tied up for five years and they will not be competitive. they will not be good marines or air force officers or whatever. we cannot put talent in that program. i said, we've got to put down in that program. once this war is over, they will be lost because they will have wasted five years of their lives, and this war is not going to last that long. this point. we ran against personnel resistance. in every one of the services. the very grudgingly identified a certain number of people and they started putting people in the program. the program was managed -- i was managing the afghan and of
it and had people working for me, but i was responsible. we did not implement it as well as we should have. it was going to get better over time. but a certain part of the people who came over or not volunteers. and they had been volun-told. [laughter] t e lawrence did well because he had a passion and wanted to do it. a percentage of them did, but it percentage did not. a percentage of the people could not learn language because they would not try and were not smart enough. but it is almost to your question exactly about the civilian part. we have to be willing to make the investment prepared -- investment. we have to be willing to say it is worth as long-term investments because is not caught -- if not, you cannot operate
effectively. you cannot go in there with people who do not have a long- term commitment to the outcome of the area and expect to have a good effect. >> we have time for one last question. right here. >> general mcchrystal, thanks for being here. i make current student and also author of the book "the first 100 days in afghanistan. we see that the u.s. does not have an enduring part -- presence in iraq and is going to devote one now for afghanistan. what is the position for that? >> what do we want? that is the first in a raft of -- the first thing i would ask u.s. policy-makers. what is our geostrategic objective in that region? if we cannot articulate that, then just saying we do not want al qaeda there is probably not broad enough.
we need to be able to identify for ourselves what we want, and then we need to see whether it is aligned with what we're willing to pay, in terms of people, in terms of money, in terms of pain, i guess you would say. i'm not 100% sure we know about. there is some discussion about it, but i'm not sure we know it. that will define what happens. we have said that we want a stable afghanistan, a stable pakistan, with a reasonable relationship between the two. and we want no al qaeda in the region and what not. but the question is whether we're willing to commit the resources long term. and part of that is just focused, not as a surrogate troops or money, but how engaged we are willing to be -- not necessarily troops or money, but how engaged we are willing to be. i have mentioned that the afghans are scared of 2014 not because there is no progress, but because there has been and they are afraid they could lose it.
i do not think the average afghan is as scared of a general taliban situation as a return to civil war. they are worried and of the rise of warlords and civil war and what not. is in our personal interest to work for stability pretty seriously in that region. but i might have a different willingness of commitment and the nation has. the policy makers have got to get together and make that decision. i and the afghans can protect -- i think the afghans can protect their sovereignty now if they have the confidence to do it. they have an army, a police force, but they are not facing a huge army. they are facing a taliban and that is fragmented. and what not. it is a different challenge. their problem is confidence. when you do not trust things and you do not trust the future, you take a very irrational actions -- very rational actions to protect you and your own produce and money to buy and
things like that. when in reality to make the country or an organization were, everyone has to make a commitment to doing the things together. it is the confidence thing that scares people more than anything. if they have a peaceful transfer of power in 2014, which they are capable of, and they have a government that appears as though it is improving -- it does not have to be great, but they just need to believe it will be better this year and then next year, and that sort of thing, then there is a chance if will come out well. if they do not, that will determine the direction. >> thank you. thank you, general mcchrystal. thank you for coming to brookings. thanks again. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> tomorrow, the special inspector for afghanistan
reconstruction, and john sopko, talks about efforts of rebuilding in the country. that is tomorrow on c-span3 at 9:30. >> if you have got some hot shot that just got his ph.d. in computer science from stanford, she is getting offers from all over the world. but "you can stay in some limbo for six years." >> so, yes, congress can do a lot, and you do not have to be proficient on an iphone or blackberry to understand the applications of tech policy and what makes it work. >> it is very difficult to make investment decisions and expect any kind of return on investment when you have no way to predict the future, and our difficulty right now is there is no consistency or certainty in our policy decisions. >> the government to roll from this year's consumer electroni